Forum: Career plan---Bench+bioinformatics or pure bioinformatics?
gravatar for michealsmith
5.1 years ago by
michealsmith760 wrote:

Hi all, I'm almost finishing my PhD and planning for next stage of my career.

The first half of my graduate years is pure bioinformatics basically analyze NGS data to look for genetic variation for certain diseases. Then the second half, based on those variations I found I started to study the function which means all wet lab work, cell culture, RNA, transfection....

Two options for future (either postdoc, company, medical board): 

1. Continue my "benchwork + bioinformatics" style

I personally prefer in future for "clinical/medical genetics" which could combine both benchwork (e.g process patient samples or PCR) plus bioinformatics (e.g NGS analysis). But sometimes benchwork is really really painful. And programs like ABMG (American board of medical genetics) that directly involves clinics is extremely competitive. Or apply for postdoc position that requires both bench and bioinformatics experience which will put me at an advantageous position?

2. Switch to pure bioinformatics

Right now I could only use other's softwares, with some NGS experience from first half of PhD (WGS, exome, RNA-seq, haplotype, Structural variation). But I couldn't write myself.  I'm wondering if now I'd like to apply for bioinformatics postdoc position, would I get any offer? Given my background what should I prepare in order to get a pure bioinformatician position? 

Would like to hear any suggestion


forum career benchwork • 1.9k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 5.1 years ago by Michael Dondrup48k • written 5.1 years ago by michealsmith760

Changed to Forum, as this is really some kind of open-ended discussion and there is no single best answer. I personally abhor giving this kind of advice to a complete stranger and following other similar questions, there is likely not coming much good out of this attempt. I'd say "Do what you will" most likely (and find already the first other comment agreeing on that), however, I'd agree also that pipetting might be painful and takes a lot of time. So maybe you can agree or disagree with the following idea: Could you make up your mind whether you want to become master of the pipette or the keyboard? If you try hard to do both you might become jack of all trades, master of none. 

ADD REPLYlink modified 5.1 years ago • written 5.1 years ago by Michael Dondrup48k

Totally agree with Michael on this - we can only talk about our experiences, but no one will ever know if our advice is of any relevance to you. Personally, I would say that being a non-programmer and pursuing bioinformatics is a dangerous move. Tools change but Computer Science paradigms will probably remain useful 100 years from now, so you might as well learn em.
In my (limited) experience, there are two settings where wet-lab-slash-bioinformaticians are useful: labs who cannot afford a dedicated bioinformatician or want to offset some of the associated risk/work; and super-PIs who run labs and need to know a little bit about what everyone is doing. You do not want to plan to be a Type 1. There is no career development path from Type 1 to Type 2.
This is all assuming that you stay in academia.

ADD REPLYlink modified 4.0 years ago • written 5.1 years ago by John12k

My advise is to do what you would like to do! If you like to combine wet with dry lab, do it and pursue that career path. If you'll like to do 100% informatics and writing scripts all day, do that!

Bioinformatics is a broad field of science, there is no 'one way' to follow. More important is that you like to do what you do, and that you become the best at doing it!

ADD REPLYlink written 5.1 years ago by Benn8.1k
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